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IMG_7278There’s something incredibly wholesome about laughter.
Not the polite interjection of mirth at a given time, or the
trying-to-make-the-uncomfortable-less-awkward kind, but the
seriously laugh-your-gut-out kind of funny.
The nothing-held-back hilarity that may involve tears, gas, or even drool.

I experienced it a few nights ago when a couple of friends and I got together after our dishes were done (mostly) and our kids were asleep (mostly).
It was life-giving and soul-renewing,
especially after a long week of single-parenting and sick tummies.

I’ve been on the look out lately for times of refreshing in my life so that I don’t miss out on them, because I’ve realized that I desperately need them.
I’ve made it a habit of missing out on rest and renewal because, well, there’s always a because…..dishes, laundry, toys under the bed, meal prep, groceries, homework…

My word of the year in 2016 is “rest” and I’m being intentional on not only watching for opportunities to rest, but also paying attention to the outcomes of that rest.
We are about half-way in to January and I’ve noticed some pretty significant changes.

Two weeks ago, I talked for 90 minutes to one of my dearest friends and I walked away from the conversation feeling as if I’d spent the weekend in the Bahamas for my heart and soul.
I could literally breathe easier and I was 100% more engaged with my kids, husbandIMG_2137, and others around me. I was more patient and I was more willing to look for beauty in them rather than trudge through another task for them.

Nearly every morning this year (it sounds cooler than “past 2 1/2  weeks” :-)), I’ve made it a priority to wake up a bit sooner and run my fingers through God’s word looking for treasure. I’ve sat with pen and journal in hand to write down my prayers, thoughts, and questions, not because I feel like I “have” to, but because it’s what I’ve wanted to do for my soul-care. I’ve just always had too much else to do for others, that I supposedly didn’t have the time to sit and study like I wanted to. But I’ve found that drawing a boundary line and locking the door can really do quite a bit (that, and repeatedly saying, “Mommy’s in quiet time, you can’t come in”).

Writing and reading are huge passions for me, but I often pigeon-hole them into such small crannies of time that I rarely engage in them because, well, you know the drill, someone always needs something.
But, I’m looking for rest this year and so I’ve blocked out pieces of time that I devote to reading and writing. The consistency fuels my creativity, inspires me to learn more, dig deeper, and reach for more. Not just for me, but for others. When I’m encouraged, I inspire others and I love better because I’m fueling their dreams. Understanding how important my own passions are makes me want to encourage the dreams God has given to others.

Which is interesting isn’t it?
Wouldn’t you think that if you focused on what you need, that you would become more self-focused? This crazy skewed perception of “godliness” by “self-denial” of the good things God intended to use for our growth, is itself a choking hazard to our sharing the gospel and living the Jesus life the way He intended!

IMG_0937We cannot possibly do all that He has called us to do,
love to the depths in the way that He has shown us,
or give as generously as He has taught us,
if we are not fueled by Himself.

And God has allowed us to be fueled by renewing ourselves in the passions He has given us that it might overflow onto the people in our lives and so build His kingdom.

Take a break this week.
Make a list of what refuels you and
sit down to look at your schedule and block out the time for resting.
I bet you’ll be surprised at what God does with your willingness to renew. It might even involve some tears, the laughing kind, or a trip to the Bahamas (emotionally anyways :-)).

No matter how it looks for your life, I guarantee you’ll walk away understanding that
A love-invested life is a well-rested life.